HARTINGTON — Cedar Catholic Coach Craig Wortmann is hoping the fourth time is the charm.
After circumventing the rough waters of a SubDistrict tournament and District finals to make their way to the 2023 Nebraska State Girls Basketball Championships this week, the waters get down-right turbulent as the Lady Trojans head to Lincoln.
Fortunately, this group has the experience of a fourth-straight appearance at state. His team should be awe-struck by playing at the Bob Devaney Center as many of the participants have played nine games in Lincoln and hope to improve on three, fourth-place finishes.
“We’ve played some games down there the past three years,” Wortmann said. “Now we need to rise up and play them better.”
The Lady Trojans have survived the opening round at state, lost the semifinal then lost the consolation game after the dream was shattered for a championship the previous day.
“We are totally focused on taking the next step,” Cedar Catholic junior, Katy Jones said. “We did it in volleyball and we plan to do it again.”
The stick on the side of the fence for this group of Lady Trojans is somewhat the same as previous seasons, but even a bigger stick.
Cedar Catholic arrives in Lincoln with a 20-6 record.
The six losses were all to highly ranked Class C2 or Class C1 teams.
The four teams had a combined record of 90-10 for the Class C2 schools and all are set to play in the C2 tournament in Lincoln.
And all are in the top level of the top six in the class.
The Lady Trojans lost to Crofton twice, Ponca once, Guardian Angels Central Catholic once and Pender once.
“We’ve played a tough schedule, but we always do,” Wortmann said. “You never know what is going to happen when you get down there - but if we play the way we are capable, I like our chances to really be a factor.”
Joining Cedar Catholic in Class D1 is a rather formidable slate of opponents as well.
The Lady Trojans ended up the No. 3 seed and will take on the No. 6-seeded Johnson-Brock Lady Eagles in the opening round.
Johnson-Brock brings a 21-5 record into the tournament two losses to both Lourdes Central Catholic and perennial D2 power Falls City Sacred Heart.
The Lady Eagles are on a five-game winning streak and have won eight of their past nine game - which is similar to a lot of teams headed to Lincoln.
Joining Cedar Catholic in the bracket will be No. 2 Centura and Elgin Public/Pope John.
Centura comes in with a 23-3 mark with wins over the likes of Howells-Dodge, Cozad and Boone Central.
The Lady Centurians are on a six-game winning streak after defeating 18-7 Nebraska Christian in the D-1 District finals 61-32.